sculpture depicting Ronald McDonald on cross
President: Ulama Aspiring For Office Must Know Other Ideologies besides Islam
Sculpture Outrages Christian Arabs In Palestine
in Muslim Chechnya Torture Two to Death, Arrest Dozens for ‘Homosexuality’
Syrian Mum Sets Self, Kids on Fire in Refugee Camp near Jordan
Asks Govt, Civil Society and Religious Scholars to Tackle Issue of Increasing
Delhi Cultural Festival Promoting Interfaith Friendship
Bishop Calls for Talks over Rakhine Crisis
Looking for More Evidence to Act on Zakir Naik’s Extradition, Says Anwar
at Jelutong condo no longer form a cross, says Penang CM
Troops Prevent Muslim Worshipers from Entering Dome Of Rock
Chief Backs Two-State Solution in Talks with President Abbas
Lebanon, US State Dept official calls Hezbollah ‘unacceptable’
launches satellite that failed to reach orbit
slams Houthis for breaking Yemen cease-fire
deal with Sudan paves way for Russia to build base on Red Sea'
deports another German for alleged Daesh connection
pledges €1bn in aid to rebuild Iraq
summons Iran envoy over British-Iranian aid worker
Welcomes Kurds’ Call for Talks, Seeks To Reunite Syria
deports second German in a week for alleged Islamic State links
University Scraps Expulsion of Student over Hug
Leader Jolani Voices Support for Turkey's Assault on Kurds
exploiting gold mines in Venezuela,’ politician reveals
says US will hurt Turkey economically if it hits Kurds
Saudi cleric brain-dead after poisoning’
Kabul Plan Joint Ulema Conference on Afghan Reconciliation
urges govt not to secure IMF loan on harsh conditions
Court never exceeded its limits, says chief justice
based on figments of imagination can’t hold when merit is upheld: Marriyum
leader receives traffic challan from Swiss police in Peshawar
Rahul Gandhi Attribute Mahatma Gandhi's Non-Violence Mantra To Islam?
arrested for providing arms to suspected ISIS-inspired terrorist group sent to
attacks accused Tahawwur Hussain Rana unlikely to be extradited till US jail
High Commission raises ‘hacking bid’ with Pakistan
Sisters Bear Witness to Christ among Muslims In Dhaka Slum
Buddhist Myanmar, Buddhist Rebels Are Fighting A Buddhist Army
Taliban, ISIS-K Militants Killed In Separate Operations Of Afghan, Coalition
Calls For 'Rapid And Unimpeded' Aid Access To Myanmar's Rakhine
bomb blast near foreign compound kills four, injures 90 in Afghan capital
due today amid stalemate in Taliban talks
Union Calls For Strike As Tunisia Marks Revolt Anniversary
Ancient Pyramid Tombs Still Shrouded In Mystery
Turning the Tables on Boko Haram
refugee agency seeks more resources for African refugees
Sudan protests ‘will not change government’
withdraws from Arab Economic Summit in Lebanon due to offensive video
chief: Libya should hold elections even if draft constitution rejected
Glick: Mike Pompeo Destroys the Ideological Legacy of Obama’s Middle East
officials due today for talks on Afghan peace process
wants Syria ‘safe zone’ to protect Turkey, Kurds: Pompeo
‘Great potential’ for expanded US, Turkey economic development
lobby group warns that Canada’s relations with Arab-Muslim world could suffer
over asylum for teen
by New Age Islam News Bureau
President: Ulama Aspiring For Office Must Know Other Ideologies Besides Islam
LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Parti Amanah Negara wants the Muslim ulema to lead the
country, but they must possess knowledge about modern civilisation beyond
Islamic jurisprudence, President Mohamad Sabu said.
an interview with pan-Arabic channel Al-Mayadeen, the politician popularly
known as Mat Sabu told journalist Zainab Al-Saffar that the concept of leadership
by the ulama was introduced during his time in PAS.
the time we were influenced by the Islamic Revolution in Iran (in 1979). We
respect the ulama but they must have full knowledge in leading people,” he
was answering a query which claimed PAS was unimpressed with Amanah's claims of
being an Islamist party since it lacked top ulama figures within its ranks.
are trying to include more ulama into Amanah. And we have a special body to
look after all these ulama who graduate from the Middle East to join our party
in the hopes they can someday lead.
knowledge must be not be limited to certain sectors of the people, but the
whole of society. They must have knowledge of other ideologies as well, so they
are able to deal with various issues related to Malaysians,” he said.
Sabu also added he remained confident in Amanah's future even though PAS may
command the majority of the grassroots.
now in the PAS stronghold of Kelantan, its foundations are starting to shake as
many PAS members are joining Amanah.
present we are seeing more than 2,000 new members from Kelantan a month, so we
are very confident of the future,” he said, without further elaborating.
art exhibit in the Occupied Territories featuring a crucified Ronald McDonald
has sparked protests by the Arab Christian minority.
of Christians calling for the removal of the sculpture, entitled “McJesus,”
demonstrated at the museum in the northern city of Haifa last week. Police say
rioters hurled a firebomb at the museum and threw stones that wounded three
police officers. Authorities dispersed the crowds with tear gas and stun
representatives brought their grievances to the district court Monday,
demanding it order the removal of the exhibit’s most offensive items, including
Barbie doll renditions of a bloodied Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
director Nissim Tal said that he was shocked at the sudden uproar, especially
because the exhibit — intended to criticize what many view as society’s
cult-like worship of capitalism — had been on display for months. It has also
been shown in other countries without incident.
protests appear to have been sparked by visitors sharing photos of the exhibit
on social media.
make up a tiny percentage of the population in the Occupied Territories and say
they face unique challenges.
need to understand that freedom of expression is interpreted in different ways
in different societies,” said Wadie Abu Nassar, an adviser to church leaders.
“If this work was directed against non-Christians, the world would be turned
Culture Minister Miri Regev, who has been accused of censorship for pushing
legislation mandating national “loyalty” in art, also called for the removal of
the “disrespectful” artwork.
museum has refused to remove the artwork, saying that doing so would infringe
on freedom of expression. But following the protests it hung a curtain over the
entrance to the exhibit and posted a sign saying the art was not intended to
is the maximum that we can do,” Tal said. “If we take the art down, the next
day we’ll have politicians demanding we take other things down and we’ll end up
only with colorful pictures of flowers in the museum.”
that did little to placate those who want the artwork removed. A protester
remained camped out in a tent at the museum on Monday with a sign reading
“Respect religions.” Police watched closely as local Christians complained to
reporters in front of street signs spray-painted with crosses and windows still
shattered from last week’s clashes.
is very offensive and I cannot consider this art,” Haifa artist and devout
Christian Amir Ballan said. “We will continue through peaceful rallies and
candle vigils… We won’t be quiet until we reach a solution.”
Leinonen, the Finnish artist behind “McJesus,” has also asked that it be taken
down — but for a different reason.
says he supports Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions, or BDS, a Palestinian-led
movement aimed at pressuring Israel to change its policies toward the
Palestinians. The group has made significant gains in recent years, persuading
a number of foreign artists to cancel performances there.
said the museum won’t bow to religious or political pressure. “We will be
defending freedom of speech, freedom of art, and freedom of culture, and will
not take it down,” he said.
in Chechnya, a majority-Muslim region of Russia, have relaunched a campaign to
arrest suspected gay and lesbian Russians, killing two and arresting over 40
others in the past month according to a report published Monday.
to Russia’s LGBT Network, which seeks to protect LGBT people from repression
and violence in Chechnya, the arrests of suspected homosexuals began last
month. The group has documented at least two people killed while tortured in
can already say that the torture being suffered by those detained is savage,
much worse than for those detained in 2017,” the LGBT Network’s programme
director, Igor Kochetkov, told the Telegraph. “We know of two dead, but
probably more have been killed.”
individuals are reportedly being held at an infamous prison in the town of
Argun, where they have had their documents seized to prevent them fleeing the
region. Authorities have also used the threat of violence against relatives and
family members should they speak out about the crackdown.
arrests are the latest case of an anti-homosexual crackdown in the Muslim
majority region, where Putin-backed strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov has led
repressive campaigns in an effort to “purify” the blood of the Chechnyan
most prominent case took place in 2017 when over 100 gay men were rounded up
and tortured. Some were handed over to relatives with the expectation they
would carry out an “honor killing,” while others were forced to sign blank
criminal charges for possible future detainment.
Monday, a spokesperson for Kadyrov denounced the reports as “complete lies
[that] don’t have an ounce of truth in them.” Kadyrov has repeatedly denied all
allegations of human rights violations and widespread persecution of LGBT
Russians and has previously claimed that gay people “don’t exist” in Chechnya
because their own relatives would have banished them from the region.
cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” Kadyrov
said at the time. “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would
not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to
where they could never return.”
an interview with the BBC last January, Kadyrov also said the allegations were
mainly from people looking to make money.
all an invention by foreign agents who are paid a few kopecks” he said.
“So-called human rights activists make up all sorts of nonsense for money.”
claims have not suppressed evidence of a sustained campaign of repression in
Chechnya; former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley was among the many figures to
publicly condemn the reports.
detentions, torture, and killings of gay people have resumed in Chechnya,”
Kochetkov added. “Persecution of men and women suspected of being gay never
stopped. It’s only that its scale has been changing.”
Syrian mum sets self, kids on fire in refugee camp near Jordan
internally displaced Syrian mother has attempted to torch herself and her
children to death in a refugee camp in southern Syria after she failed to find
food for her family for three straight days.
defense spokesman Khaled al-Ali said Sundus Fathallah, 28, set herself and her
three children on fire inside a tent at the desolate Rukban refugee camp near
Syria's border with Jordan over the weekend as she helplessly watched her
children starving. Other refugees in the camp put out the fire, which damaged
the tent, and evacuated the woman and her children to hospital, the spokesman
woman and her infant were seriously hurt while the two other children suffered
minor injuries, Ali pointed out.
October, the Britain-based so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)
said people in Rukban camp have been without access to food and humanitarian
materials for several months.
Observatory highlighted that the tough situation is coupled with a closed
border by Jordan.
closed its border with Syria following an attack on its soldiers by Daesh
Takfiri terrorists back in 2016. Earlier this week, however, Amman re-opened
the Nasib border crossing with Syria for the first time in three years, as the
crisis in Syria is gradually winding down thanks to the Syrian army’s decisive
gains against terrorists.
United Nations says about 45,000 people, mostly women and children, are trapped
inside Rukban refugee camp.
is while Geneva-based Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has put the number of
refugees living there closer to 60,000.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported early October 2018 that two
children had died due to lack of medical care. Four-month-old Huda Raslan died
from malnutrition and a lack of medical access while Munaf al-Mahmoud, a
one-year-old baby, died due to the lack of adequate medical care as well.
again, UNICEF appeals to all parties to the conflict in Syria and those who
have influence over them, to allow and facilitate access to basic services
including health for children and families. This is the very minimum for human
dignity,” Geert Cappelaere, the UNICEF Middle East and North Africa director,
said in a statement.
area where Rukban camp is located is controlled by the former US-backed Shuhada
al-Qaryatayn militant group. The extremists were supposed to evacuate to
Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib in accordance with a Russian-backed
deal, but refused to do so.
has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian
government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are
aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.
asks govt, civil society and religious scholars to tackle issue of increasing
Supreme Court on Tuesday in its verdict in a suo motu case on the increasing
population said that the government, civil society and religious scholars
should all take steps to tackle the issue.
three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising
Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, was hearing the case.
Population control is the latest campaign the SC has extended its support to.
to the 2017 census, which was held after a gap of 19 years, the country’s
population is approximately 207,774,520 living in 32,205,111 households. The
results show that Pakistan has moved up the ladder becoming the fifth most
populous nation only behind India, China, the United States and Indonesia. Top
government officials have decided to reduce the population growth rate of 2.4
per cent per annum to 1.5pc.
SC in its verdict today observed that an increasing population is a stress on
the country's resources and likened the growth to an explosion.
need a campaign to decrease the population," the court said. "It is a
question of the future of our coming generations."
entire nation must stand united on the matter of population planning,"
said chief justice Nisar, who has termed unbridled population growth as the
"most disastrous issue" for Pakistan.
yesterday's hearing, the court was told by the health secretary that a demographic
survey is conducted every five years. The last one was in 2018 and its results
bore little difference compared to the survey before that, the secretary told
chief justice asked about progress made on its earlier orders, to which the secretary
had responded that a report was submitted.
three months, the court will assess the implementation of the report," the
chief justice said, referring to recommendations made by a task force that had
been set up to probe the matter.
adhering to the task force's recommendations could lead to the destruction of
the country," Justice Nisar had warned.
my recent vacation in India I attended a unique 2-day cultural festival called
“Jashan Rekhta” in New Delhi on December 15, 16 at the National Stadium. The
event is being organized every year for the last five years by the Rekhta
Foundation headed by Sanjay Saraf, a New Delhi businessman. While the core
theme of the event is Urdu language and its culture of a composite
multi-religious, multicultural society, it makes a huge effort to make artists,
speakers and the audiences from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian communities to
participate in equal numbers, thereby promoting India’s basic composite
its various sessions spread over two days the event presented well known
authors, poets, moviemakers, ghazal-qawwali-sufi music singers as well as folk
singers from various north-Indian regions. In addition to typical Muslim
cultural items like mushaira, qawwali, ghazal, sufi music, icons of Hindu
culture like Ram Kahani – a rendering of Ramayana in Urdu, and Kabir Kahani – a
nugget from the Bhakti movement of medieval India, were presented in equal
over-riding flavor of the event, though loaded with Urdu and north Indian
Muslim culture, was the warm atmosphere of friendship and commonality among men
and women from different religious communities and the presence of a
substantial number of young, under-40 people. This cultural festival has built
such a reputation that a good number of people in the audience were NRIs and
visitors from other Indian cities.
attraction at the Rekhta event was a large food court comprising of stalls
offering rich variety of high quality food, e.g. distinct Delhi cuisine,
Lucknow cuisine, Rajasthani cuisine, Kashmiri cuisine, Bihari cuisine, each
with their own authentic breads, rices and non-vegetarian/ vegetarian dishes.
In the food court also the composite and diverse culture theme was predominant.
interfaith cultural bonhomie in the 3,000 strong audience was so pervasive that
as I was returning home from the event by the Delhi metro, I said to myself “
Who says Hindu-Sikh-Muslim-Christian friendship is dead in India”. This in the
face of the bad news we often receive of Hindu-Muslim tensions and problems in
various Indian cities.
of us have to work harder to support such positive events and debunk the
selfish politicians and the sensationalist TV media in India that divide us by
propagating distorted precepts of religion, cow and medieval Indian history.
India’s composite and tolerant Hindustani culture is what is in our bloodstream
and what we grew up with. I doff my hat off in respect for the Rekhta
Foundation and such other groups that promote such positive cultural and social
events to bring people together.
bishop calls for talks over Rakhine crisis
Alexander Pyone Cho has called on all parties to return to the negotiation
table as fighting escalates in Myanmar's restive Rakhine State.
bishop of Pyay said tensions remain high between the military and the Arakan
the problem with arms will not lead to a solution, so both sides need to go to
the negotiable table [and work] towards stability and peace," Bishop Pyone
Cho told ucanews.com.
than 4,500 people have fled their homes and taken refuge at monasteries and
schools in four townships in Rakhine.
pay the price of fighting and more people might be fleeing if fighting
intensifies," the bishop said.
69-year-old bishop said the renewed fighting in Rakhine will have some impact
on the peace process as Aung San Suu Kyi's government is trying to negotiate
with all armed ethnic groups for a durable peace.
is a challenge for the government but I believe Aung San Suu Kyi will not give
up her priority of getting peace as she is very committed to it," said
Bishop Pyone Cho.
military declared a four-month ceasefire in northern and eastern Myanmar on
Dec. 21, but Rakhine was excluded and operations against the Arakan Army have
Jan. 8, Myanmar's civilian leaders, including state counselor Suu Kyi, met with
a delegation led by military chief Min Aung Hlaing to discuss the situation.
Arakan Army was formed in Rakhine in 2009 to protect ethnic Rakhine people and
it is estimated to have several thousand well-equipped soldiers.
Pyone Cho's diocese covers troubled Rakhine, which has experienced the Rohingya
crisis as thousands of people fled to Bangladesh following Myanmar's military
crackdown in August 2017.
said it is hard to tell how many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh will return to
Myanmar as many believe it is not safe.
Myanmar's side, it is ready to accept all refugees but from the Rohingya
refugees' view, fear still remains," Bishop Pyone Cho told ucanews.com.
instability in Rakhine might be one more reason for the refugees to remain in
Bangladesh, he said.
bishop acknowledges that international pressure will remain on Myanmar in 2019
but he warns that apportioning blame will only worsen the situation.
international community also needs to find out the positive things and give a
hand to Aung San Suu Kyi's government to find a lasting solution," Bishop
Pyone Cho said.
than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in the wake of the military crackdown
that began in August 2017 following attacks on security personnel by Rohingya
U.N. Fact-Finding Mission report found that Myanmar's military committed four
of the five acts constituting genocide against the Rohingya. It said Min Aung
Hlaing and five other senior generals must be prosecuted for genocide and war
crimes against humanity.
looking for more evidence to act on Zakir Naik’s extradition, says Anwar
Lumpur is looking for more evidence from New Delhi before it can act on any
request for the extradition of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, Malaysia’s prime
minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim said on Thursday.
year, India made a request for the extradition of Naik, who was given permanent
residency status by the previous Malaysian government led by Najib Razak.
Though India has an extradition treaty with Malaysia, current Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad said last July his government will look at all factors before
deciding on Naik’s case.
seen that Prime Minister Mahathir has already said we are looking into it, we
are waiting for more arguments or the case from India, for the Malaysian
government to look at it because what we have now is a request to bring back
(Naik),” Ibrahim said on the sidelines of a meeting with Indian Muslim
shortly after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ibrahim said he had
made it very clear to the Indian leader “that issues of terrorism, in any way,
will never be supported or condoned by the Malaysian government”.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) has charged Naik with allegedly inciting
youngsters to take up terror activities, giving hate speeches and promoting
enmity between communities. Naik is also being investigated for hate speeches
that allegedly inspired a terrorist attack on a popular cafe in Dhaka in 2016.
has lived in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia since he left India more than two years
said Malaysia needs India to furnish “documents and reasons” for the
think you must appreciate the fact that the Malaysian government needs to study
this. This is a case mentioned by India, we respect (their views) but the
Malaysian government has to look at it and study the case. I’m not in the
government per se, but I understand the fact that (Mahathir) is personally
looking into it,” he said.
if Malaysia would act once more evidence is provided by India, he replied: “I
think at this stage, Malaysia is waiting for the documents. If they say that
they have supplied (them), Malaysia will look at it positively and then the
government will, of course, have to decide.”
who was freed from prison last year after the Pakatan Harapan alliance formed
by him and rival Mahathir swept to power in elections, is expected to take over
as premier when Mahathir steps down. He refused to set a timeframe for the
change. “At the right time, I shall assume the premiership,” he said.
his meeting with Modi, Ibrahim discussed bilateral, regional and global matters
of mutual interest. Modi congratulated Ibrahim on being elected president of
the Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the dominant player in Malaysia’s ruling alliance.
engaged in a few subjects. Prime Minister Modi met Prime Minister Mahathir
recently, and we are keen to ensure bilateral relations stay on the best terms
and include education and culture,” Ibrahim said. “India also feels, and we
share the concern, that we should extend this understanding and collaboration
that covers security interests of the region.”
TOWN, Jan 14 — The lights at the high-rise Grace Residences building in
Jelutong no longer form a cross when they are switched on, Penang Chief
Minister Chow Kon Yeow said.
said a picture of the building last night did not show a cross after previous
photos of it sparked a controversy.
picture was sent to me last night, it only showed that the carpark was lit up
and it doesn’t show a cross,” he told reporters after a cheque handing over
ceremony in Komtar today.
said he has yet to receive any report from the developer, Nova Mulia
Development Sdn Bhd, on the issue.
am still waiting for full information on this from the state secretary,” he
week, pictures of the high-rise building with lights along the common areas
forming a cross went viral on social media, triggering an outcry among some
led to a statement by the Penang mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor calling on the
local authorities to instruct the developer to change the position of the
lighting so that it does not resemble a cross when viewed from afar.
said the issue can be resolved with cooperation by all parties.
Salim also said that the issue should be handled carefully in accordance with
the law and not to let anger take the lead.
wish to call on all parties to be careful so as not to aggravate the situation
and destroy the harmony of society,” he said.
troops prevent Muslim worshipers from entering Dome of Rock
police forces have prevented hundreds of Muslim worshipers from saying their
prayers in the Dome of the Rock mosque, which is located inside the al-Aqsa
Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Palestinian Ma'an news agency further reported on Monday that Israeli troops
were heavily deployed in all over the compound as Muslim worshipers, after
being barred from entering the holy site, gathered in one place to perform
prayers together outside of the Dome of the Rock.
report, citing Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson of the Islamic Waqf (Endowment)
organization, as saying that Israeli police forces also prevented a group of
imams and sheikhs from entering the site.
added that the Israeli forces also assaulted Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, director
of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, without giving more details.
police also held ID cards of all worshipers, al-Dibs further noted.
al-Aqsa Mosque compound sits just above the Western Wall plaza and houses both
the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque.
continue in the occupied Palestinian territories as part of the aftermath of US
President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s
"capital" and relocation of the US embassy to the occupied city.
December 21, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in
favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial policy
the vote, the US went ahead with the embassy transfer on May 14, triggering
demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt,
Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.
by Trump’s move, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted his
administration, saying Washington is no longer qualified to serve as the sole
mediator in the decades-long conflict with Israel, and that an international
mechanism should be devised to replace the US in the so-called peace process.
chief backs two-state solution in talks with President Abbas
United Nations says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has met with Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas and stressed again that a two-state solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the only path to peace.
strong backing for an independent Palestinian state came ahead of the release
of a long-awaited US plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace and Israeli elections
spokesman Stephane Dujarric says Guterres also congratulated Abbas during
Monday’s meeting on the election of the Palestinians to preside over the Group
of 77, a bloc of 134 mainly developing nations and China that promotes their
collective interests at the United Nations.
will take over the chairmanship from Egypt on Tuesday.
US State Department criticized Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group on Monday
for digging tunnels into Israel and stockpiling rockets, as Washington steps up
efforts to isolate Tehran.
recent weeks, Israeli forces uncovered tunnels they said were dug by Hezbollah,
and Lebanon complained about Israel’s construction of a barrier along disputed
parts of the border.
United States, Israel’s closest ally, regards Hezbollah as a terrorist group
and has pledged tougher steps to counteract Iranian influence in the region,
but it has also reiterated its backing for the Lebanese government - which
includes Hezbollah representatives - and army.
of State Mike Pompeo last week vowed to expel “every last Iranian boot” from
Syria, where Iran has been fighting alongside Hezbollah, and where Israel has
been carrying out strikes against both.
Lebanon has the right to defend itself, that is the right of the Lebanese state
alone,” said David Hale, US under secretary of state for political affairs,
after meeting Lebanese prime minister designate Saad al-Hariri.
is unacceptable to have a militia outside the control of the state, and
unanswerable to all people of Lebanon digging attack tunnels across the blue
line to Israel or assembling an arsenal of over 100,000 missiles with which to
threaten regional stability,” he added.
which regards Hezbollah as the biggest threat on its borders, on Sunday said it
had completed efforts to find and destroy tunnels under the frontier that it
said the group had dug to infiltrate fighters during a future war.
has not commented on the tunnels. Lebanon’s National Security Council last week
said an Israeli border wall that crosses into territory claimed by Lebanon,
constitutes an act of aggression.
both sides appear ready to contain matters for now. “Israel’s interest is to
keep the (situation) quiet. I think for them (Hezbollah), that interest is even
greater,” Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot said last week after completing his
term as Israeli army chief.
was set up by Iran in the early 1980s to fight Israel’s occupation of south
Lebanon, but it retained its weapons after Israeli forces withdrew in 2000 and
has become the strongest political force in the country.
last conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, fought on Lebanese soil, was in
2006. A United Nations Security Council resolution ending that conflict called
for work to delineate the border, but the frontier has still not been agreed.
border dispute has also affected Lebanese plans to drill for oil and gas near
an area of sea claimed by both countries.
visit comes as Lebanese politicians continue to jostle over the formation of a
new coalition government more than eight months after an election.
is part of Lebanon’s caretaker government and is expected to be included in any
new coalition formed by Hariri.
on Tuesday conducted one of at least two satellite launches it plans despite
criticism from the United States, but the satellite failed to reach orbit, an
rocket carrying the Payam satellite failed to reach the “necessary speed” in
the third stage of its launch, Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari
Jahromi told Iranian state television.
said the rocket had successfully passed its first and second stages before
developing problems in the third. He did not elaborate on what caused the
rocket failure, but promised that Iranian scientists would continue their work.
has said it plans to send two satellites, Payam and Doosti, into the orbit.
Payam means “message” in Farsi, while Doosti means “friendship.”
unclear how the failure of the Payam will affect the launch timing for the
Doosti. Jahromi wrote on Twitter that “Doosti is waiting for orbit,” without
usually displays space achievements in February during the anniversary of its
1979 Islamic Revolution. This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the
revolution amid Iran facing increasing pressure from the US under the
administration of President Donald Trump.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Iran’s plans for sending
satellites into orbit demonstrate the country’s defiance of a UN Security
Council resolution that calls on Iran to undertake no activity related to
ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
insists the launches do not violate the resolution.
the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in
2013 launched a monkey into space. The US and its allies worry the same
satellite-launching technology could be used to develop long-range missiles
capable that could carry nuclear weapons.
denies wanting nuclear weapons. A 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers
limited its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday accused Iran-backed Houthi militias
in Yemen of failing to comply with a cease-fire agreement for the Red Sea port
city of Hodeidah reached at UN-sponsored talks in Sweden.
comments came after he cut short his Middle East tour and headed home early to
attend a family funeral on Monday.
work that was done in Sweden on Yemen was good, but both sides need to honor those
commitments,” Pompeo said in Riyadh after talks with Saudi King Salman and
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “To date, the Houthis have chosen not to do
US Embassy in Riyadh said Pompeo and Prince Mohammed “agreed on the need for
continued de-escalation and adherence to the Sweden agreements,” especially the
cease-fire in Hodeidah.
comprehensive political solution is the only way to end the conflict,” the
was for months the main front line in Yemen after government forces backed by a
Saudi-led military coalition launched an offensive to capture it in June. More
than 80 percent of Yemen’s imports pass through the port, but it is also a key
route for Iranian arms and ammunition supplied to the Houthis, including parts
for missiles used to attack Saudi Arabia.
UN has said the Hodeidah truce has largely held since it came into force on
Dec. 18, but there have been delays in the agreed pullback of Houthi and
government forces. In 80 minutes of talks with the king and the crown prince,
Pompeo restated US concern about the 19-month dispute between Qatar and other
Gulf states over Doha’s support for terrorism, which he said was threatening
regional unity needed to counter Iran.
did talk about how we might put the Gulf rift back in a better place,” he said.
“I think they’d like to see that too.”
said the king and the crown prince had also assured him everyone responsible
for the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be held
accountable. Khashoggi, 59, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last
October. Eleven Saudis have been charged and prosecutors seek the death penalty
for five of them.
Saudi leaders “acknowledged that accountability needed to take place. They
talked about the process inside their country, both the investigative process
and the judicial process,” Pompeo said.
reiterated their commitment to achieve the objective, the expectations we set
left Saudi Arabia for Oman on Monday but canceled plans to visit Kuwait because
of a death in his family.
ongoing dispute between Qatar and four of America’s other close Arab partners
also featured in Pompeo’s talks, as the rift continues to hamper a US-led
effort to unite the Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan in a military alliance
to counter Iran.
senior Sudanese parliamentarian says a draft military deal with Russia on
mutual navy port visits could pave the way for Moscow to build a permanent
military base on the Red Sea coast.
General Al-Hadi Adam, the head of Sudan’s parliamentary defense committee, told
Russia’s Sputnik news agency on Saturday that the agreement set the guidelines
for the entry of Russian and Sudanese warships to the ports of the two
countries, hailing it as a step towards establishing strategic relations.
date of the requested port call is being discussed. It will be approved if the
two countries make an agreement. This deal will pave the way for more
agreements and greater cooperation…possibly a Russian base on the Red Sea,” the
pointed out that several regional states had already allowed foreign countries
to build military bases in their territories, adding that Sudan, just like
those countries, reserved the right to allow Russia to establish a military
base on its territory.
week, Russia’s legal information portal website reported that Prime Minister
Dmitry Medvedev had approved the draft agreement on port calls with Sudan.
to the draft agreement, “the entry of warships shall be made after notification
has been given not later than seven working days prior to the scheduled date of
draft document stressed that “within the framework of the Agreement, no more
than seven warships can be present simultaneously, in the territorial sea,
inland waters and ports of the receiving State.”
does not, however, provide for the building of a military base in Sudan.
November 2017, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir met with his Russian
counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Russian city of Sochi, where both leaders
expressed their desire to enhance military ties.
the visit to Russia, Bashir even offered to build an airbase for Russia on its
Red Sea coast.
also suggested re-equipping the Sudanese army with Russian-built airplanes and
military arsenal including surface-to-air missiles.
Sudanese president also asked Putin to help protect his country from the
“aggressive” United States.
is considered as a key ally of the Sudanese government against Western
Egypt has deported the second of two young German men who were arrested last
month as suspected militants, the Foreign Ministry in Berlin said on Monday.
Issa Ibrahim El-Sabagh landed at Frankfurt airport, reported Spiegel Online,
following last week’s repatriation of Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz, 23.
ministry spokeswoman confirmed that “the person arrived back in Germany last
men had vanished in December in Egypt, where the government only reported their
arrests following inquiries by Germany.
families had raised the alarm and have called the arrests cases of mistaken
a German-Egyptian dual citizen and student in the city of Giessen, was arrested
in mid-December after landing in the southern city of Luxor.
security sources said the two men were suspected of having tried to join the
Daesh group’s affiliate in the troubled Sinai peninsula.
prosecutors said last week they were looking into the Egyptian media reports on
Abdel-Aziz to investigate whether there were “any indications of criminal
23-year-old has since posted a video on Facebook in which he denied he is an
extremist militant who supports violence or has any Daesh links.
student from the university town of Goettingen also said he had flown to Egypt
to visit his grandparents and retracted anything he had said in Egypt “under
duress and pressure.”
has been battling insurgency in North Sinai, which spiked following the 2013
military ouster of President Muhammad Mursi.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says France is committing €1 billion
($1.15 billion) to help Iraq rebuild after its war against Daesh.
Drian, meeting with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad on Monday, said the aid
would go to rebuilding Iraq’s most devastated areas.
Planning Ministry has estimated the cost of reconstruction at $88 billion. Iraq
was able to raise $30 billion at a donor conference in Kuwait last year.
Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim thanked France for its assistance to Iraq’s
minority Yezidi community. Daesh militants enslaved and killed thousands of
Yezidis during their brief reign in north Iraq earlier this decade.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has summoned the Iranian ambassador to discuss
the imprisonment of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
40-year-old aid worker was jailed for five years in September 2016 after being
convicted of spying for the U.K. while she and her daughter were visiting her
family in Tehran, a charge they deny.
foreign secretary, according to the BBC, has praised Zaghari-Ratcliffe for her
bravery and endurance and criticised Iran for allowing “an innocent mother to
feel she needs to resort to a hunger strike” to call for attention.
has begun a three-day hunger strike to protest against prison officials who
have refused to provide urgent medical care.
Richard Ratcliffe has warned that his wife is in need of neurological care due
to severe neck pains and numbness in her arms and legs and that she has to
request permission to visit a psychiatrist outside of prison.
to Amnesty International, Zaghari-Ratcliffe is imprisoned in Iran’s notorious
Evin prison alongside prominent Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi,
who is also in need of urgent medical attention.
outrageous it’s had to come to this for Nazanin and Narges. Nazanin and Narges
are prisoners of conscience, forced to resort to desperate, life-endangering
measures simply to get vital medical care,” Kate Allen, Amnesty’s U.K.
director, said in a press statement.
Iranian authorities should stop playing cruel games with Nazanin and Narges and
immediately release them. Pending their release, they should be allowed the
medical care they urgently need," she added.
a British-Iranian dual national, was arrested in 2016 at Imam Khomeini Airport
when she was going back to the U.K. after visiting her family in Tehran.
welcomes Kurds’ call for talks, seeks to reunite Syria
Syrian government has welcomed talks with Kurdish groups aimed at maintaining
the country’s unity after the Kurds called for a Russian-mediated deal with
Kurdish leaders have sought a Russian-mediated deal with President Bashar
al-Assad's government after US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw
American troops from the war-ravaged Arab country.
hope for the intensification of the dialogue. Many of the Kurdish statements
were positive regarding their concern for the unity of Syria,” Syria's
Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan told reporters in Damascus on Sunday.
are confident that through dialogue we can deal with some of the demands ...
and this dialogue guarantees that, as long as it is based on a commitment to
Syria’s unity,” he added.
Kurds are rattled by Turkey's threats of an invasion to eliminate US-backed YPG
militants whom Ankara regards as terrorists.
deal would mark perhaps the most important milestone because the two biggest
chunks of Syria splintered by eight years of war would be rejoined, leaving
only a corner in the northwest in the hands of militants.
Kurdish official Badran Jia Kurd told Reuters earlier this month that the
Kurdish-led administration that runs much of northern Syria presented a roadmap
for an agreement with Assad during recent meetings in Russia, and would pursue
one regardless of US plans.
Syrian minister said intensified dialogue was significant when set against
challenges, “especially the expansionist ambitions that lead the policies of
the Turkish regime.”
Friday, Moscow said it was important for Syria’s Kurds and the Damascus
government to begin talking in light of US plans.
said last month that he was bringing home the American troops deployed in Syria
-- some 2,000 -- alleging that they had succeeded in their mission to defeat
the Daesh terrorist group.
US said on Friday that it had begun the pullout process, but officials later
clarified that the Pentagon was withdrawing only equipment, not forces.
— Egyptian officials said authorities have deported a German teenager they say had
come to Egypt with the intention of joining Islamic State militants fighting
security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
said the Giessen resident was put on a flight to Germany early Monday. They
said he was detained at Luxor airport on December 17 when police found maps of
Sinai and a compass in his possession.
reports named him as 18-year-old Isa El Sabbagh.
said questioning him revealed that he subscribed to IS ideology and was in
online contact with members of the militant group.
officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to
talk to reporters.
university scraps expulsion of student over hug
Egypt’s Al-Azhar university on Monday overturned a decision to expel a female
student who was filmed hugging a male colleague, after the country’s top Muslim
cleric intervened in her favour.
a video widely circulated earlier this month, a man was seen carrying a bouquet
of flowers kneeling before a woman and then hugging her in what was to be a
decided on Saturday to expel the young woman, but two days later the
institution’s grand imam, Ahmed al-Tayeb, urged the disciplinary board to
“reconsider the punishment.”
cited the student’s young age and her educational future, although he said her
conduct outside campus was “unacceptable” and unbecoming for “religious and
is the most prestigious seat of Sunni Islamic learning in Egypt.
an urgent meeting on Monday, the disciplinary board scrapped its earlier
decision and instead ruled that the student should be prevented for taking the
first half of her exams.
reversal came after the student “expressed deep regret for what was done, and
pledged to abide by the students ethics and the values of society,” according
to a statement.
viral video was not shot at Al-Azhar, but at the Mansoura University in
northern Egypt where the man filmed is a student.
was expelled for two years over the footage, university spokesman Hany Helal
said, although he can appeal the decision.
Sunday, the young man was interviewed by telephone by a prominent television
talk show host on channel MBC Masr, and said that he had brought the bouquet of
flowers to propose to the woman.
were supposed to be engaged but after what happened her parents are refusing
this completely,” said the young man, a first year law student who was
identified only by his first name Mahmoud.
a predominantly Muslim country, is a largely conservative society.
Arabic-language Enab Baladi news website, affiliated to the militants, quoted
Jolani as saying on Monday that "we support Turkey's action to take
control over the Eastern Euphrates region".
added that the Kurdish forces are considered as the enemy of what he called as
Tahrir al-Sham's "revolution", noting, "We believe that these
forces should be annihilated and this will happen for sure."
was the first reaction of Jolani after Tahrir al-Sham's occupation of Idlib
province that has forced other terrorist groups to leave the region.
has in the past few days sent several military convoys to the borders with
Syria to launch military operations against Kurds in Eastern Euphrates.
has undertaken to disarm Tahrir al-Sham in a demilitarized zone that stretches
across several Northern provinces in Syria under an agreement signed with
Russia, known as the Sochi Agreement.
Tahrir al-Sham is expanding its territories in Northern Syria and launches
daily attacks on Syria army from its positions within the demilitarized zone.
sources close to the Ankara-backed militants said earlier today that the
Turkish army was rendering logistical support to Tahrir al-Sham.
Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted sources close to the Ankara-backed
National Liberation Front (NLF) militant group as disclosing that their backers
are sending military and logistical aid to Tahrir al-Sham in Northern Syria.
dismissed Ankara's official claims about their struggle against Tahrir al-Sham
in Northern Syria, and even said Turkey has called on the terrorist group to
continue occupying Idlib province.
militant group Hezbollah controls gold exploration mines in Venezuela,
opposition lawmaker Américo De Grazia revealed this week.
an interview with Miami-based Spanish newspaper Diario las Américas, De Grazia
was criticizing President Nicolas Maduro’s Orinoco Mining Arc, a mega-mining
project to explore 12 percent of Venezuela’s territory for non-renewable metals
is known to have some of the world’s largest gold reserves, many of which are
beneath the soil of the “mining arc,” along with diamonds, coltan, bauxite and
Grazia said Hezbollah, as well as the National Liberation Army – a
Marxism-aligned armed group involved in the continuing Colombian armed conflict
– are “exploiting the mega-mining project to dig for gold.”
politician, who serves as National Assembly deputy representing the mining
state of Bolivar in southeastern Venezuela, said Hezbollah “controls a number
of special mines to finance terrorist operation for the regime it serves,” in
reference to Iran.
Grazia said Maduro’s mining project was a “government scam to satisfy Russian,
Turkish or Chinese negotiators and get cash.”
Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Monday Turkey expected the United States to
honor their strategic partnership after US President Donald Trump warned it
would "devastate Turkey economically" if they attack a Kurdish
militia in Syria.
between the two NATO allies have been strained over US backing for the Kurdish
YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK) that is waging a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.
@realDonaldTrump It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK,
which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG,” spokesman
Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.
can’t be your partners & allies. Turkey expects the US to honor our
strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist
propaganda,” he said.
tweeted earlier about the United States starting its pullout from Syria, while
hitting the remaining Islamic State fighters there.
attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey
economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone...Likewise, do not
want the Kurds to provoke Turkey,” Trump wrote.
renowned Muslim preacher and a university lecturer has been declared brain-dead
after Saudi officials injected poisonous substance into his body during brutal
torture in prison as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
against Muslim preachers and intellectuals widens in the conservative oil-rich
rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental
organization seeking to promote human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a
post on its official Twitter page that Dr. Ahmed al-Amari, who was a professor
at Faculty of the Holy Qur'an in the Islamic University of Madinah, suffered
severe brain hemorrhage after the injection.
was then taken to King Abdullah Medical Complex in the Red Sea port city of
Jeddah, where all doctors confirmed that he is brain-dead shortly afterwards.
on Monday, Prisoners of Conscience announced that activist Yaser al-Ayyaf is
suffering from severe burns and bruises all over his body as a result of savage
torture he endured during his detention in solitary confinement.
Arabia has lately stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and
conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.
officials have also intensified security measures in the Shia-populated and
oil-rich Eastern Province.
Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011.
Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of
political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination
against the oil-rich region.
protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime with
security forces increasing security measures across the province.
the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target
Kabul plan joint ulema conference on Afghan reconciliation
and Pakistan are planning conferences of religious scholars to explore ways for
their role in peace and reconciliation in the war-shattered country, officials
of the two countries said on Sunday.
Ashraf Ghani’s special envoy Umer Daudzai discussed the proposal in meetings
during his recent visit to Pakistan. Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Dr
Qibla Ayaz told Daily Times that Pakistan supports all efforts for peace in
Afghanistan and will positively respond to Kabul’s proposal for ulema meetings
in Islamabad and Kabul. “We have suggested Afghanistan to send some scholars
for preliminary discussions with Pakistani ulema,” he said, adding that he
assured the Afghan envoy that a joint ulema conference is very much possible.
He said Afghanistan will send scholars by March this year.
High Peace Council Spokesman Ihsanullah Taheri said in Kabul that the Afghan
side has reached an understanding with the CII chairman on the Pak-Afghan ulema
conference to be held in Islamabad.
wants Pakistani scholars to issue a fatwa against violence in Afghanistan like
the one they issued in January last year which described suicide attacks in
Pakistan against the teachings of Islam.
has reportedly shared a draft of the joint declaration to be issued by scholars
of the two countries but has not received Kabul’s response so far. The draft
was shared with the Afghan side nearly two months ago and Pakistan drew
attention of Afghan envoy during his meetings with Pakistani officials last
of the peace council and Afghan clerics council visited Pakistan in September
last year and held talks with senior Pakistani scholars on a joint ulema
conference. However, there has been no progress so for.
Central Shoora of Jamaat e Islami has called upon the government to adopt
stringent action against the people who had plundered pubic money and built
properties abroad, and bring their wealth back to the country.
resolution adopted by the JI central body noted that cases of money laundering
to the tune of Rs 324 billion had been unearthed and fake bank accounts of
billions of rupees in the name of common vendors and petty shopkeepers had come
another resolution, the Shoora called for subsidizing the agricultural inputs
in order to ensure increase in farm production. It stressed that the growers
should be ensured reasonable return of their hard labour. It also demanded
completion of the Mehmand Dam and the Bhasha Dam within the minimum period.
Shoora urged the government not to secure IMF loan on harsh conditions,
especially at the cost of compromising the country’s nuclear facility. .
urged the government to make recoveries from the people who had got bank loans
written off. It noted that the Supreme Court had itself initiated enquiry
against these people.
JI Shoora urged the government to implement the tax reforms with sincerity and
levy minimum sales tax to ensure complete documentation of the economy. It
called for doing away all forms of tax exemption. It suggested that income tax
should be le vied on the income of Rs six lakh per annum.
also demanded provision of electricity on subsidized rates to the industry to
ensure increase in industrial production. It called for promoting technical
education and training to overcome the problem of unemployment. It proposed
allocation of six per cent of the GDP, for education and health.
another resolution, the JI Shoora called for promoting the Islamic culture and
way of life in the country so as to raise its image in the world community. It
stressed that violation of the Shariah should be avoided in every way of life.
It demanded bringing all laws of the land in conformity with the Quran and the
Sunnah and refraining from enacting any law that was repugnant to the Quran and
the Sunnah as required by the constitution.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said on Monday that the Supreme
Court had never exceeded its limits and that the people of the country had
confidence in the apex court.
the launching ceremony of the Police Reforms Committee’s report — “Police
Reforms: Way Forward” — organised by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan
(LJCP), he said the Supreme Court had disposed of 85 per cent cases and
provided relief to people.
said people wanted positive change and the rule of law in the country. He said
that every action he had taken as CJP was within the parameter of the law,
adding that he had never exceeded his constitutional mandate.
CJP said the police reforms constituted an integral part of the criminal
justice system reforms. Since the independence of the country about two dozen
reform initiatives had been undertaken, however, desired results could not be
achieved, he added.
emphasised the importance of the rule of law and an efficient criminal justice
system in society. He stated that the police had a crucial role in protecting
the right to a fair trial and in the prevention and investigation of crimes.
to the CJP, an effective police force is one that is assisted by the community
they serve as people are confident that justice will be done.
stressed that the existing criminal justice system urgently required reforms as
a whole. Especially upgrade of the law for governance and management is
required to ensure a neutral, responsive, accountable and transparent police
force. The police force could only function efficiently when they were given
administrative, operational and financial autonomy, he added.
Nisar said that the Police Reforms Committee was established with the objective
of an independent and impartial police force and its recommendations were very
useful because they outline the duties of police officers, the separation of
investigation procedures and composition of the Commission to promote
stated that by implementing these recommendations, trust deficit between police
and public would decrease and it would create a competent, efficient and
responsive police force.
CJP applauded efforts and contribution of members of the Police Reforms
Committee, saying that they worked day and night to complete the report.
his concluding remarks, CJP Nisar stressed the need for de-politicising the
police to develop public confidence in the system. He stressed that there was a
need to pinpoint lacunae in investigation resulting in the acquittal of
on police reforms
steering committee headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, senior puisne judge
of the Supreme Court and the designated chief justice of Pakistan, worked on
the implementation of recommendations.
convener of the Police Reforms Committee and former inspector general of Sindh
Police, Afzal Ali Shigri, stated that performance of police was directly linked
to the delivery of justice and performance of judiciary and criminal justice
said in the past several efforts had been made to improve the performance of
the criminal justice system. But, he added, the current initiative had the
distinction that it was taken by the Supreme Court.
Shigri said after formation of the Police Reforms Committee intensive
deliberations and discussion were held within the committee. He said the report
contained feasible and practical proposals on matters, like the redressal of
grievances and improvement in the quality of investigation.
Shigri also presented the report on police reforms to CJP Nisar.
report recommends certain measures, such as establishment of “complaint
redressal mechanism” at the office of the city police officer headed by an
officer of additional inspector general rank in provinces and deputy inspector
general in Islamabad.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Central Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb on
Monday said that cases based on pretentious assumptions cannot hold in the
court of law when merit is upheld.
to the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision to uphold suspension of the sentence
against Nawaz Sharif, she said that the PML-N leader would be vindicated from
all frivolous cases stacked up against him because he is a person with a
positive intention and faith.
said that not a single penny of corruption, kickbacks or misuse of authority at
any level had been proven by the vicious political victimisation campaign.
“Nawaz Sharif erected projects worth billions of dollars for the progress and
development of the people of Pakistan and the ill-wishers could not find a
misappropriated dime from the tax-payers money,” she added.
a single member of the Sharif family could be indicted under any charge of
corruption and kickbacks despite being investigated exhaustively through three
generations from great-grandfather to great-granddaughter during this
witch-hunt,” Marriyum further added.
former information minister said that Nawaz Sharif had been presenting himself
for the process of accountability of three decades of financial transactions
despite serious reservations at times, to encourage transparency and
accountability in the youth of Pakistan.
Fazl (JUI-F) leader Arbab Farooq has received a traffic challan from the Swiss
government, a private media outlet reported Monday.
to reports, Farooq had paid a visit to Switzerland some five to six months ago
where he had unintentionally violated a traffic rule.
have received a letter from Swiss authorities stating that I committed a
traffic violation somewhere on the road,” he said in a video message, adding
that he was fined for 105 Euros.
believe this is quite a commendable act that portrays how they follow traffic
rules so rigorously.”
added that Pakistanis should also abide by traffic rules and develop a
praiseworthy system like Switzerland.
will pay the fine. I call upon fellow citizens to follow the traffic rules of
the country and show the world that we were law-abiding citizens.”
Rahul Gandhi attribute Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence mantra to Islam?
Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his Dubai speech say Mahatma Gandhi picked
up the idea of non-violence from Islam? This claim is being widely circulated
by Facebook pages such as Nation with NaMo, PMO India: Report Card and Shankh
Naad. Rahul Gandhi recently concluded his two-day maiden visit to the UAE.
Today Fact Check found this claim to be misleading. During his interaction with
the Indian diaspora in Dubai, Rahul Gandhi did not credit Mahatma Gandhi’s idea
of non-violence just to Islam but other religions such as Christianity and
Judaism too. These posts have been shared more than 11,000 times at the time of
the last count.
the nine-second video, Rahul can be heard saying, Mahatma Gandhi picked up the
idea of non-violence from ancient Indian philosophy, from Islam." The
remaining part of the speech was mischievously cropped in the viral video.
Gandhi's full speech is available on the Congress' Facebook page. In the
original video, which is 27 minutes and 37 seconds long, Rahul Gandhi can be
heard saying, Non-violence is embedded inside our DNA and it has been embedded
not for 50 years. Mahatma Gandhi was a great exponent of non-violence. But
Mahatma Gandhi ji picked up the idea of non-violence from our great religions,
from ancient Indian philosophy from Islam, from Christianity, from Judaism,
from every great religion where it is clearly written that violence will not
help anyone achieve anything."
we can conclude that Rahul Gandhi’s video was mischievously edited just to
mislead users and give them an incomplete perspective.
the past too, Rahul was targeted in a similar manner. In November 2018, a video
of Rahul Gandhi went viral where he was attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
However, the viral video misled netizens by not presenting the complete story
as it was cropped too. India Today had successfully debunked the claim.
DELHI: A Delhi court Monday sent Muhammad Naeem, arrested for allegedly
providing weapons to members of a suspected ISIS-inspired terrorist group, to
judicial custody on Monday.
Judge Rakesh Syal sent the accused to custody till February 6 after Naeem was
produced on the expiry of his NIA custody and the probe agency did not seek his
further custodial interrogation, his advocate Muhammad Noorullah said.
21-year-old was arrested from Meerut in western Uttar Pradesh on January 3 and
produced before the court the next day, who sent the accused to 10 days of NIA
the probe agency said, supplied weapons to the members of a suspected Islamic
State-inspired terror group which was busted on December 26, wherein the NIA
had arrested 10 men, including a 'mufti' from Amroha in western Uttar Pradesh.
agency said the terrorist group were planning suicide attacks and serial blasts
targeting politicians and government installations in Delhi and other parts of
10 accused are currently in judicial custody.
arrested are: Mufti Mohammed Suhail alias Hazrath (29), Anas Yunus (24), Rashid
Zafar Raq alias Zafar (23), Saeed alias Sayeed (28), Saeed's brother Raees
Ahmad, Zubair Malik (20), Zubair's brother Zaid (22), Saqib Iftekar (26),
Mohammed Irshad (in late 20s) and Mohammed Azam (35).
accused were arrested after raids in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh — at six places in
Amroha, two in Lucknow, two in Hapur and two in Meerut.
NIA had seized a locally-made rocket launcher, material for suicide vests and
112 alarm clocks to be used as timers during its searches.
NIA had recently arrested another accused, 24-year-old Muhammed Absar, in the
case who was sent to six days of the agency's custody by a Delhi court on
agency said it had recovered 25 kg of explosive materials, potassium nitrate,
ammonium nitrate and sulphur, after the raids.
ISIS-inspired group -- 'Harkat ul Harb e Islam' which loosely translates into
war for the cause of Islam -- allegedly had purchased remote control cars and
wireless doorbells to use their circuits in assembling remote-controlled
improvised explosive devices.
is no immediate possibility of extradition of Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur
Hussain Rana, accused of plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, to India
until he completes his 14-year jail term in the US in December 2021, Indian
officials with knowledge of the matter said on Monday.
(58) was convicted by a US federal court in 2013 on charges of participating in
a conspiracy to attack a Danish newspaper and providing material support to
Pakistani terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for carrying out the Mumbai
attacks in which 166 people, including six US nationals, were killed.
NIA [National Investigation Agency], which probed the larger conspiracy to
carry out a series of strikes in India beginning from the Mumbai attacks, is in
regular touch with its American counterparts to complete the paperwork with
regard to his extradition ahead of his release in 2021. We don’t want any delay
in his extradition. There have been numerous video conferences between the
officials of the two countries and a visit by a team of NIA officials to US in
this regard,” a central counter-terror official said on condition of anonymity.
NIA team was provided with guidance to complete paperwork over Rana’s
extradition by the Americans according to their judicial system, the official
added. “There are a few things that cannot be discussed in a video conference,
therefore a team of officials was sent there,” said the official.
person familiar with the developments said NIA was the lead agency for dealing
with all matters related to Rana’s extradition and the external affairs
ministry will intervene only if necessary.
official in the US said while two countries continue to discuss Rana’s possible
extradition, an early resolution is not expected as the process is “cumbersome”
and “time-consuming”. A request sent to US department of justice for comments
remained unanswered as of press time. The official added there were no recent
developments in the process.
Indian and American officials want to complete paperwork before Rana’s release
in order to avoid his deportation to Canada, as he is Canadian national. The
first official said that the Americans have always been willing to look at the
possibility of Rana’s extradition to India.
official said in order to circumvent the clause of double jeopardy, which bars
a person to be punished twice for the same crime, India has sought Rana’s
extradition on the charge of being involved in conspiracy to carry out a series
of strikes on installations such as Delhi-based National Defence College and
Chabad Houses in several cities and committing forgery to facilitate Indian
visa for his co-accused, David Coleman Headley.
Indian High Commission in Islamabad has strongly raised with Pakistan alleged
attempts to hack the social media account of one of its diplomats and incidents
of close tailing of the Indian envoy and his deputy, official sources said.
Indian mission, in a note verbale, raised with the Pakistan Foreign Office the
incident of the Indian High Commissioner and his deputy being put under an
aggressive watch by a Pakistani security official during a wedding reception on
December 4 in Serena Hotel in Islamabad.
said that attempts were made to hack the social media account of the second
secretary and that the official received an email from Facebook administration
that repeated attempts were made by unknown people to log into his Facebook
Sisters Bear Witness to Christ Among Muslims In Dhaka Slum
lay nuns of the Secular Institute Believers in Christ Community have dedicated
their lives to bearing witness to the Gospel in slums and among Muslims. They
teach catechism to Christian students and pray for the healing of the sick.
the [consecrated] sisters appreciate our work,” said one nun, “because we
tirelessly preach Christian values. Every day we renew our vows of poverty,
chastity and obedience."
Frank J Quinlivan, Holy Cross missionary, established the institute of Catholic
lay women who chose the Ordo virginum, i.e. the special form of consecration
that allows women to continue their regular life without the obligation to wear
the veil or live in a community. Recently the archdiocese of Dhaka gave them a
house that can house five people. Before that, they stayed in a rented flat.
Gomes, 76, is the group coordinator and runs a school for slum children in
Dhaka’s Tejgaon district. “As a child I wanted to sacrifice my life for
Christ,” she said. “I wanted to be a nun, but I couldn’t make it. In the end I
entered this community."
her, “Our way of life allows us to reach many more people and win their hearts.
We can go where we want, we do not have a 'dress code', we can earn money from
our profession. But like consecrated sisters, we work for Christ and are ready
to sacrifice our lives for him."
Sobita, Asha Rozario, 70, loves “this life. This way I work for Christ
directly. In addition to my main profession, I teach catechism to Catholic
children in the church of Tejgaon and prepare them for the sacraments of the
Eucharist and confirmation."
addition to teaching, the sisters are active in spiritual outreach for the
sick. They lead the Rosary recitation in different Catholic areas of the
capital and are part of the Liturgy Commission of the Archdiocese of Dhaka.
group has very specific plans for the future. "We would like to extend the
teaching of the Christian religion to Catholic students in Muslim schools,”
said Sobita, “because they do not receive adequate religious education there.
The parents asked us."
Buddhist Myanmar, Buddhist rebels are fighting a Buddhist army
previously known as Burma, has a 70-year long history of internal armed
conflicts between its predominantly-Buddhist armed forces and the Muslim and
Christian separatist ethnic groups like the Rohingyas, the Kachins and the
Shans in the Northern and North-Eastern parts of the country.
of late, the army has been fighting a Buddhist group too. It is called the
Arakan Army’s grievance is that the two million Arakanese Buddhists, also
called Rakhine Buddhists, are being discriminated against by mainstream
Myanmarese Buddhists called “Bamar” who are ensconced in power in the national
January 4 this year, the Arakan Army carried out coordinated assaults on four
posts manned by the Myanmarese paramilitary Border Guard Police at Buthidaung
Township in Rakhine state, close to the border with Bangladesh.
least 13 policemen were killed and nine wounded in the attacks. Video footage
subsequently released showed that at least one base was overrun by rebels using
newer AK-series assault rifles, machine guns and sniper rifles and not
rudimentary assault rifles and small-arms, and home-made crude Improvised
Explosive Devices (IEDs) as before.
Arakan Buddhists and the Arakan Army consider the “Bamar” to be “colonial
oppressors” though they too are Buddhists. “Arakan is ours. If the Myanmarese
go back to their native place there will be no fighting,” said Khaing Thu Kha,
the Arakan Army spokesman in an interview to the media.
Arakan Buddhists’ taking up arms against it has shocked the Myanmarese army
officially called “Tatmadaw.” It was the Tatmadaw which had nurtured the Arakan
Army to help it intimidate and drive out the Muslim Rohingyas of Arakan into
700,000 Rohingya Muslims were forcibly sent to Bangladesh in the past year or
two, on the grounds that they were Bangladeshi immigrants and not indigenous to
in many other cases the world over, an armed group nurtured by the State or
government, eventually turned against its creators or sponsors.
is more shocking is that the Arakanese Buddhists have teamed up with the
Christian Kachins to fight fellow Bamar Buddhists. The Arakan Army has been
conducting joint operations with the Kachin separatist army.
to Myanmarese historian, Thant Myint-U, “The emergence of the Arakan Army is
one of the biggest shifts in Myanmar’s armed conflict landscape in a
generation. It’s an upsurge in violence that tears Arakanese and Burmese
societies apart in a way unprecedented in modern times. It’s a shock to the
the Muslim Rohingya, the majority-Buddhist Rakhine (also known as the
Arakanese) are officially recognised by the central government as an ethnic
minority. But still they feel marginalised. Historically, Myanmar has been
dominated by the Bamar ethnic majority based in Central and Southern Myanmar.
inability to forge its various ethnic and religious groups into one nation has
led to peripheral groups demanding either a confederation or outright
the Kachins and Shans, the Arakanese Buddhists also want self-determination and
independence. They want the restoration of the independent Arakan state which
existed till the late 18th century when the Bamar Buddhists occupied it and
took away the sacred golden Buddha statue known as Mahamuni. Even today,
Rakhine Buddhists mourn the sacking of their capital city by the Bamar army in
1784, and the seizure of Mahamuni.
the Rakhine Buddhists feel that their region and their economic and political
rights have been neglected by the mainstream Bamar Buddhists though their region
is rich in natural resources.
is going to invest in the Rakhine region and develop the Sitwe harbour. But
Rakhine Buddhists wonder if they will get a share of the fruits of development
or a chance to participate in the development of the region.
National League for Democracy (NLD) government had refused to share executive
power at the state level after the Arakan National Party had won a majority of
votes in Rakhine state in the 2015 elections. Rakhine parliamentarians have had
no influence over the government. This has given rise to movements named “The
Way to Rakitha” and the “Arakan Dream 2020” which are based on the
self-determination of the Arakanese.
OF ROHINGYA ISSUE
Rohingya Muslim issue had indirectly helped boost Rakhine Buddhist separatism.
While fighting against the Rohingya Muslims, the Arakan Buddhists realised that
the only language the Myanmar Government would understand was violence and that
Rakhine nationalism would be served best by fighting the State with arms.
turned ugly in January 2018 when Rakhine nationalist commemorations to mark the
233rd anniversary of the fall of the Arakan Kingdom to Bamar invaders in the
Rakhine town of Mrauk U ended in violence.
tried to seize the local General Administration Department (GAD) building. GAD
is a powerful civilian agency controlled by the military. Security forces
reacted by shooting dead seven Rakhine Buddhists. Subsequently on January 30,
Mrauk U’s former town administrator, Bo Bo Min Thaik, was murdered and his body
left to rot on a roadside.
UP WITH OTHER REBELS
the Arakan Army was born, not in Arakan, but in the Kachin state bordering
China, where it forms part of the China-backed, United Wa State Army (UWSA)-dominated
Northern Alliance (NA) is a coalition of ethnic armies. At present, it includes
the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance
Army (MNDAA), the Ta-ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and the Arakan Army
Arakan Army and its allies in the Northern Alliance are of greater concern to
the Tatmadaw than the Rohingyas’ Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Unlike
the poorly-armed ARSA, the Arakan Army and its allies are well-equipped and
organised. The Arakan Army also has militant cells in towns to plant explosives
and target security and government officials.
unlike ARSA, which has no foreign support, the Northern Alliance has China’s
support. The government in Yangon is unable to tackle China on this issue
because China backs it on the Rohingya issue in the UN and in other world fora
where the Yangon regime is pilloried for its abominable treatment of the
suggests that the regime in Yangon cannot take measures like complete expulsion
as it did in the case of the Rohingya Muslims. It has to negotiate an end to
the conflict across the table at some stage or the other.
Taliban, ISIS-K militants killed in separate operations of Afghan, coalition
least 27 Taliban and ISIS Khurasan (ISIS-K) militants have been killed during
the separate operations conducted by the Afghan and coalition forces in the
past 24 hours.
to the informed military sources, two coalition air strikes in Dahanah-ye Ghori
and Baghlan-e Jadid districts of Baghlan province left at least 11 Taliban
sources further added that the Afghan Special Operations Forces conducted a
clearance operation in Achin district of Nangarhar province, killing 5 ISIS-K
fighters and destroying a weapons cache.
coalition air strike in Darah-ye Pech district killing 2 Taliban fighters, the
sources said, adding that an Afghan Special Operations Forces operation killed
5 Taliban fighters and destroyed a large weapons cache in Paktika.
United Nations has expressed grave concerns about the condition of civilians in
Myanmar’s state of Rakhine, calling on the government to allow “rapid and
unimpeded” humanitarian access to the region.
plea on Monday came after officials in Rakhine issued a notice last week that
banned non-governmental organizations and UN agencies from traveling to rural
areas in five townships in the northern and central parts of the state affected
by the conflict in recent years.
are seriously concerned about new restrictions on humanitarian access which
leave thousands of women, children and men in affected areas of Rakhine without
access to adequate assistance and protection,” said Pierre Peron, a spokesman
for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
hope the government responds positively to our call for rapid and unimpeded
humanitarian access, and to ensure the protection of civilians in accordance
with international humanitarian and human rights law,” he added.
state -- once home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims -- has been the
scene of successive rounds of violence against the Rohingya following a
military crackdown in recent years.
Rohingya, the world’s most persecuted ethnic minority, have been attacked and
driven out of their native Rakhine State in what the UN investigators as well
as international rights groups have denounced as “an ongoing genocide.”
Muslims were subjected to a campaign of killings, rape, arbitrary arrests, and
arson attacks by the military and Buddhist mobs in Rakhine mainly between late
2016 and August 2017.
brutal campaign forced some 700,000 Rohingya to flee their homeland since
August 2017 and seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. There, they are confined
to squalid, overcrowded camps and face forced return back to Myanmar.
Muslims, who have lived in Myanmar for generations, are denied citizenship and
are branded illegal emigrants from Bangladesh, which likewise denies them
former communities in Myanmar have been razed. Report say Buddhists have been
shuttled and settled there in newly-built structures to repopulate the area.
late October, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin to return hundreds of
thousands of the Rohingya refugees who fled last year.
least four people have been killed and dozens of others wounded after a
bomb-laden car exploded near a heavily fortified foreign compound in the Afghan
Interior Ministry officials said casualties took place after militants targeted
Green Village, located near a busy road in the east of the city, on Monday
far, four people have been confirmed dead and more than 90 wounded, including
23 children, the ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said. Three of the
dead were members of the security forces and one was a civilian.
said there were fears the toll could rise.
Ministry spokesman Najib Danish earlier said that "special police forces'
units have been deployed to the site to check if there are more
recently, some UN staff had lived and worked at the highly secure compound, but
Danish said the area was now largely empty and "only a number of
guards" were left.
group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but it bears the hallmark
of attacks carried out by Takfiri terrorist groups.
militants have stepped up attacks on foreign targets across the war-torn
country over the past months.
late November, a vehicle bomb exploded outside the compound of British security
firm G4S, killing at least 10 people.
The Taliban claimed the attack. That was followed by a bomb and gun
attack on a government compound in Kabul on December 24 that killed at least 43
developments come as the Kabul government has stepped up efforts to convince
the Taliban to end more than 17 years of militancy amid Washington’s failures
on the battleground.
US, too, has been holding talks with the Taliban. The US State Department's
special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, has said that he had held
"productive" meetings in Abu Dhabi with Afghan and international
partners "to promote intra-Afghan dialogue towards ending the
said the Taliban seek an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign forces, while
the US wants assurances from the militant group that its forces would not be
talks are the latest in a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed at putting an end
to the war in Afghanistan, which began with the US-led invasion in 2001.
President Donald Trump has ordered the start of withdrawing some 7,000 troops
from Afghanistan, about half of the total number of American boots on the
ground in the war-torn country.
Khalilzad, the US diplomat assigned to lead peace talks with the Taliban, is
scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on Tuesday (today) for talks on Pakistan’s
role in the peace process, officials said Monday.
will hold talks with Pakistani officials on ways how to convince the Taliban
sit with the Afghan government. Taliban have ruled out negotiations with the
Kabul administration unless they reach an agreement on the issue of withdrawal
of foreign troops.
opened meetings with US in July and met US Deputy Secretary of State Ambassador
Alice Wells. Khalilzad held three meetings with the Taliban – two in Qatar in
October and November and third in UAE in December.
Times has learnt that the UAE meetings on Dec 17-18 led to tensions after the
Taliban refused to meet the Afghan government’s representatives who were in the
UAE. Officials from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE attended the talks, which
Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed were facilitated by Pakistan.
State Department said last week that Khalilzad, in his current visit, will meet
with senior government officials in each country to facilitate an intra-Afghan
political settlement. Leading an interagency delegation, he has already visited
India and China and is scheduled to visit Afghanistan after his visit to
Pakistan. “US supports the desire of Afghan people and the international
community for a political settlement that ends the 40-year conflict and ensures
Afghanistan never again serves as a platform for international terrorism.
Khalilzad will meet with Afghan government officials and other interested parties
to support and facilitate an inclusive peace process in Afghanistan,” a State
Department statement says.
Representative Khalilzad continues to coordinate his efforts with President
Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other Afghan stakeholders
to ensure an intra-Afghan peace process, it said.
union calls for strike as Tunisia marks revolt anniversary
powerful UGTT trade union on Monday called for a strike as the country,
grappling with economic hardships, marked the eighth anniversary of the 2011
revolution that toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after 23 years in
Tunisian General Labour Union, the UGTT, called on public sector employees to
observe the strike on Thursday - the second since November - to demand a wage
rise and economic reforms.
a speech at the union’s headquarters, secretary general Noureddine Taboubi said
the strike should go ahead as talks between the UGTT and the government on
social and economic reforms remained deadlocked.
servants represent a sixth of Tunisia’s workforce and in November the UGTT said
it was demanding 673,000 state employees receive salary hikes equal to those
granted in 2018 to public companies, which range from 15 to 30 euros ($17-34) a
President Beji Caid Essebsi has urged a boycott of the strike.
is necessary to stop or limit” strikes, he said, during a visit at the Bardo
National Museum where an exhibit was on display to pay tribute to Tunisian
revolution which sparked the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.
added, however, that “we must take into consideration the deteriorating
purchasing power of citizens”.
North African country is seen as having had a relatively smooth democratic
transition since the January 14, 2011 toppling of President Zine El Abidine Ben
Ali after 23 years in power.
the same time, price hikes fuelled in particular by the fall of the Tunisian
dinar, combined with tax increases and stubborn unemployment, have spurred
social discontent that escalated into riots across several cities in January
2016, the International Monetary Fund granted Tunisia a 2.4-billion-euro loan
over the span of four years in exchange for a promise to carry out economic
country is grappling with an inflation rate of 7.5 percent and unemployment
stands at more than 15 percent, with those worst hit being young university graduates.
Tunisians hope there will be change in 2019 when presidential and legislative
elections are due to take place.
on Monday, hundreds of Tunisians, including politicians, took to the streets of
the capital to celebrate the ousting eight years ago of strongman Ben Ali,
gathering in the landmark Habib Bourguiba Avenue in central Tunis.
ancient pyramid tombs still shrouded in mystery
Algeria: Dating back centuries, Algeria’s pyramid tombs are unique relics of an
ancient era but a dearth of research has left the Jeddars shrouded in mystery.
13 monuments, whose square stone bases are topped with angular mounds, are
perched on a pair of hills near the city of Tiaret, some 250 km southwest of
the capital Algiers.
between the 4th and 7th centuries, the tombs are believed by some scholars to
have been built as final resting places for Berber royalty — although nobody
knows who truly laid within.
Algerian authorities and archaeologists are now pushing to get the Jeddars
listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, in the hope of assuring their
preservation and study. Gaining such status is a lengthy process and the
Culture Ministry said Algeria’s application to the UN body “will be filed
during the first quarter of 2020.”
from the National Center for Prehistoric, Anthropological and Historical
Research have for more than a year been preparing their case for the Jeddars.
goal is to “preserve this heritage, which is of immeasurable value and an
ancestral legacy,” said Mustapha Dorbane, a professor at Algiers 2 University’s
Archaeology Institute. When the Jeddars were built, Berber kings ruled the area
in small fiefdoms whose history is poorly known and of which few traces were
was a period of great unrest for the former Roman province of Numidia, as
Rome’s western empire collapsed, Vandal and Byzantine troops invaded, and Arab
forces stormed across North Africa.
centuries these far-flung monuments sat largely ignored, delivered to the
ravages of time and looters. But more recently a group of around 20 archaeology
students and their teachers has been working at the monuments.
slowly, they noted vandalized spots and used water and brushes to gently clean
stone-engraved symbols before measuring them. A meticulous task, each entry may
take upward of two hours.
archaeologist Rachid Mahouz, who has spent five years on a doctoral thesis
about the tombs, deplores the lack of research devoted to the country’s
French archives on the Jeddars are not available and the objects and bones
found during the colonial era were taken to France,” said Mahouz, who was born
and raised nearby.
was not taught at Algerian universities until the early 1980s, and until now,
no speciality on funerary monuments is offered.
research team has been working on Jeddar A, which sits on Mount Lakhdar along
with monuments B and C. The remaining Jeddars are on a hilltop some 6 km away,
Mount Arouri, and are known by the letters D through M.
contains at least one room, with the largest mound giving way to a labyrinth of
20 compartments, including funerary chambers.
rooms are equipped with benches, areas researchers believe may have been used
for worship. Inside the tombs, traditional Christian symbols as well as hunting
scenes and animal figures are carved above the doors.
of inscriptions believed to be Latin mark the walls, but time has rendered them
the layers of history, researchers say they have also found Greek letters —
although others dispute this.
Jeddars were built several centuries after other imposing pre-Islamic funerary
monuments, which are found in present day northern Algeria, making them the
last of their kind to be erected before the arrival of Islam.
most distinctive feature of the Jeddars is by far the date of their construction,”
said Mahouz, the archaeologist.
monuments show the evolution of burial practices in the area. From simple
mounds of earth and stone, known as tumuli, to stone-walled tombs called
with some reaching heights of 18 meters, some researchers say the size of the
Jeddars put them in a category of their own.
earliest known written description of the Jeddars was made by historian Ibn
Rakik in the 11th century, according to famed Arab thinker Ibn Khaldoun.
was not until the mid-19th century and the first modern archaeological
explorations in Algeria, brought on by French colonialism, that the Jeddars
began to draw attention.
troops and colonial authorities began explorations in 1865 of nine of the
of the Jeddars was boosted in the late 1960s by Algerian archaeologist Fatima
Kadra’s three-year study of Jeddars A, B and C — the oldest of the 13 and the
only ones to be explored since Algeria’s independence.
several of the structures have never been entered, as gravity and time have
brought mounds of dirt and stone crashing down on the tombs within.
Turning the Tables On Boko Haram
- for both individuals and groups - is shaped by a mix of elements including
ethnicity, religion, culture and personal experiences. Much of this is
historical in nature. Violent extremist groups drawn on such elements of
historical identity in their narratives to further their objectives.
can this history also be called on to counter violent extremism? Examining how
this can be done could offer policymakers ideas at a time when creativity and
moving beyond more traditional approaches to addressing violent extremism are
Nigeria, when Boko Haram's first leader Mohammed Yusuf was alive, his movement
drew inspiration from the writings of 13th-century Islamic scholar Ibn
Taymiyya. Yusuf and his followers met regularly at a centre they called Markaz
Ibn Taymiyyah in Borno State.
Haram aims to establish a caliphate and exploits a key phase in Nigeria's
pre-colonial history to justify this. The group's leaders invoke the legacy of
the 19th-century Sokoto caliphate - the foundation of contemporary northern
Nigeria. The caliphate was the product of a popular jihad - one that appealed
to the people of its time and which Boko Haram uses to strengthen its call for
a new caliphate today.
Haram leaders have previously referred to the Sokoto caliphate to evoke
feelings of a glorious past. This is reflected in the group's audio and video
sermons. There are writings regarding one of the videos titled 'Implementing
Islamic Laws in the Islamic State of Africa'. In it Boko Haram factional leader
Abubakar Shekau reminds followers of how 'war was declared on the Sokoto
caliphate by the enemies of Islam ... under the colonial project'.
power of historical identity could offer the legitimacy to unite people against
a common enemy
these same historical narratives be used to strengthen efforts against Boko
Haram? About a decade ago when Yusuf preached in Sokoto - the present-day
location of the ancient caliphate - a few individuals joined his following.
Most however remained unpersuaded by his sermons.
Haram was largely rejected in these communities because the people maintained a
strong sense of their historical identity. They considered themselves
beneficiaries of the jihad which their predecessors had already experienced
back in the 19th century; the jihad led by Shehu Usman dan Fodio.
rejected Boko Haram because they viewed the group as forcing on them a second
jihad which they considered a mockery of what they held historically sacred. In
the eyes of these communities, the ideological deception that Boko Haram
presents as 'jihad' violates an enduring historical ideal on which their
Islamic world view is anchored.
rejection of Boko Haram's preaching in Sokoto is noteworthy as it occurred at a
time when this part of Nigeria experienced the highest levels of absolute and
relative poverty in the country. This is a crucial reminder that economic
deprivation doesn't always lead to violent extremism.
extremism thrives on divisiveness and exclusion
historical potency of the Sokoto caliphate offers the local actors a reason to
contest the position of Boko Haram on an ideological level. The history of
these communities inspires resilience and is something the more troubled Borno
State in Nigeria's north-east can learn from.
people of Borno emerge from the history of the Kanem-Bornu empire which existed
centuries before the Sokoto caliphate. By the 17th and 18th centuries the
empire was attracting some of West Africa's leading scholars, some of whom
established contact with the renowned Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
main traditional leader of present-day Borno is a descendant of Muhammad
al-Kanemi, a 19th-century Islamic scholar and political leader who was bold
enough to challenge the jihad expansion of the Sokoto caliphate into Borno's
is this kind of boldness, strengthened by the weight of communal history, that
the people of contemporary Borno need to be reminded of when it comes to
resisting the influence of groups like Boko Haram.
historical potency of the Sokoto caliphate provides a means to contest Boko
evoking history and asserting values against violent extremism can take many
forms. Following the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris in January 2015,
over a million French citizens reasserted their commitment to the values of the
French Republic by gathering at the Place de la République. This is a monument
to the country's historic revolution that asserted foundational principles of
liberty, fraternity and equality.
is still needed in order to identify the local actors in Nigeria who could lead
efforts through using history. Nigeria's National Action Plan for Preventing
and Countering Violent Extremism would need to strengthen its existing
component which focuses on community engagement and resilience. Community and
religious leaders should also be part of this commitment.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday called for more
resources to help African refugees in 2019.
comments by Filippo Grandi came during a two-day visit to Egypt where he met
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and other government officials.
trip to Cairo also comes as Egypt prepares to assume the presidency of the
African Union in February.
said “85 percent of the 68 million displaced and refugees are not in those
countries of the global north but they are in the global south.”
was now time to “draw resources to Africa,” he told a news conference, pointing
out that those allocated to the continent were “limited”.
also noted that while Egypt hosts “a lot of refugees,” it is not fully
recognized as a “refugee-hosting country”.
hosts more than 250,000 registered refugees, more than half of whom are
Syrians, according to the UN refugee agency.
spoke about the goals of the Global Compact on Refugees adopted by 181
countries in December, saying it is “to mobilize not only humanitarian
resources, but also development resources”.
also voiced “concern” over the protests in Sudan, saying he fears displacement
would occur if the situation deteriorates in the country.
hope the situation will stabilize in a peaceful manner,” he said.
Syria, Grandi said about 50,000 refugees had returned to Syria in 2018.
a small number,” he said, adding that the number stood at 60,000 the year
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Monday that ongoing protests will not
lead to a change in government, as he addressed a rally of cheering supporters
in war-torn Darfur.
will not change the government,” Bashir told crowds of supporters gathered in
Niyala, the capital of South Darfur state, where just a day ago police had
broken up an anti-government demonstration.
only one road to power and that is through the ballot box. The Sudanese people
will decide in 2020 who will govern them,” said Bashir, who is planning to run
for the presidency for the third time in elections to be held next year.
protests have rocked Sudan since December when angry crowds took to the streets
in towns and villages against a government decision to raise the price of
least 24 people have died in the protests, which swiftly turned into nationwide
anti-government rallies, with protesters calling on Bashir to step down.
has many enemies and those enemies have few people among us who don’t want
stability and security,” said Bashir, waving his trademark cane as supporters
chanted “stay, stay”.
will not allow anyone to destroy our homeland by looting and burning our
the initial days of protests, several buildings and offices of Bashir’s ruling
National Congress Party were set on fire in towns and villages.
Sunday, the first anti-government demonstrations were held in Niyala and
El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.
has decided not to participate in the Arab Economic Summit in Lebanon because
of insults made by the Amal Movement, a Lebanese political party associated
with Lebanon's Shiite community which is led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Libyan position comes after an offensive video went viral on social networking
sites, showing members of the Amal Movement tearing up the Libyan flag and
removing it from a flagpole, replacing it with the party's own flag.
Sunday, Libyan social network users were angered by the recent Lebanese
escalation against Libya. The son of former Libyan leader Muammar Al Gaddafi,
Hannibal Al Gaddafi, is being held in Lebanon while Libyans are demanding his
release. His case has been controversial, with many Lebanese political parties
using the case to demand the postponement of the Arab Economic Summit.
is true that our country is in a difficult situation, but we are a nation that
has dignity and worth, and we do not accept any state to deprive us of
that," said Libyan political activist Fadil al-Ameen, calling on Lebanese
authorities to release Libyan national Hannibal, who has been held for more
than three years.
Fahima, a member of Libyan parliament, said to Alarabiya that "this is an
individual act by some demagogues, which does not represent the Lebanese people
or the policy of the Lebanese state, and will not affect in any way the
relationship between Libya and Lebanon."
should press ahead with national elections even if voters reject a draft
constitution in a planned referendum, the head of the country’s internationally
recognized parliament said.
comments by Aguila Saleh could help assuage UN and Western concerns that the
House of Representatives (HoR) might try to undermine efforts to organize
elections to help end the years-long conflict in Libya.
United Nations and Western powers hope Libya will hold its national elections
by June, after holding a referendum on a constitutional framework to chart a
way out of the conflict, which stems from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in
we want a constitution (based on) consensus this will take time... We need an
executive authority and there is no other choice than (electing) a temporary
president (if the draft constitution is rejected),” Saleh told Reuters in a
weekend interview in his home town of Qubba in eastern Libya.
did not mention a possible date for the elections.
French plan, backed by the United Nations, had initially called for national
elections on December 10, but weeks of fighting in the capital Tripoli between
rival groups and parliament’s failure to approve necessary legislation made
has two governments, one in the capital Tripoli and a rival in the east allied
to commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control the east. Haftar is seen as a
likely contender in the next presidential election.
High National Elections Commission (HNEC) said last month it could organize a
referendum in February if it received funding from the UN-backed government
based in Tripoli.
said the HoR could, if needed, secure funds from the Haftar-linked government
in the east to allow the referendum on the draft constitution to go ahead.
voters to approve a draft constitution could prove very difficult in a country
so deeply divided between two rival governments and parliaments and also along
voters reject the draft constitution, Saleh said, a special committee should
work on a new version. The current draft envisages a parliamentary system with
two chambers but also with a strong presidency.
the moment that President Donald Trump entered office two years ago, he has
been stripping away his predecessor Barack Obama’s legacy in the Middle East,
piece by piece.
hasn’t been easy.
took Trump a year to finally overcome the opposition of the professional
bureaucracy at the State Department and the Defense Department, and overrule
the opposition of his then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of
State Rex Tillerson to recognize Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Trump had to
overcome further opposition from his senior advisors and the consensus view of
the foreign policy establishment to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to
too, to walk away from Obama’s signature foreign policy, his 2015 nuclear deal
with Iran, Trump had to overcome opposition from Mattis, the foreign policy
establishment, the European Union, and the media.
has faced attempts by Obama alumni and the media to undermine his strategy of
undermining Iran through a mix of economic sanctions on Iran and strengthening
U.S. allies and alliances in the Sunni Arab world. The media hysteria over the
assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, an al-Qaeda sympathizer who wrote columns for
the Washington Post, was a transparent attempt to undermine Trump’s ability to
work with Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.
Syria, Mattis and other senior officials worked to preserve Obama’s policy of
limiting U.S. operations and focus to fighting Islamic State forces while
ignoring Iranian and Iranian proxy forces operating in Syria.
Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismantled the ideological foundation
of Obama’s Middle East policy, at the very place where Obama first set it out.
than six months after Obama took office, he set out his perception of America’s
rightful position in the world generally, and the Middle East, in particular at
a speech at American University in Cairo. His speech, “A New Beginning,” was
billed as a speech to the “Muslim World.”
address was the most radical, most anti-American speech any U.S. president had
ever delivered. In his speech at American University in Cairo, Pompeo rejected
all aspects of Obama’s address — and in so doing, set out the intellectual
foundations of Trump’s view of America’s position and role as superpower in the
opened his speech in Cairo by vilifying America and the West. He cast the blame
for bad relations between the U.S. and the Islamic world on America and its
relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and
cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has
been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims,
and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as
proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change
brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as
hostile to the traditions of Islam.
Obama castigated the United States and the West collectively, he cast Islamic
terrorism and other forms of Muslim aggression against the U.S. and the West as
the misdeeds of mere “violent extremists,” who comprise but “a small but potent
minority of Muslims.”
from rooted in their own ideological or religious beliefs, the crimes of this
small minority of “violent extremists” were, in his telling, provoked by
American and Western collective malevolence and ill-treatment.
other words, America’s and the West’s chickens came home to roost.
judging his own country as the primary driver of poor relations with the Muslim
world, Obama then rejected America’s right to act independently in
international affairs. The war in Afghanistan was legitimate, he argued, because it was initiated “with broad
war in Iraq, on the other hand, “was a war of choice that provoked strong
differences in my country and around the world.”
promised to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq quickly, and then scolded his
nation, “Events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and
build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.”
most shockingly, Obama alleged that the U.S. had effectively lost its soul in
its response to the September 11 attacks. In his words, “Nine-eleven was an
enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger it provoked was
understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions
and our ideals.”
went on to castigate Israel at great length. He echoed the radical Islamic
claim that Israel is a colonialist implant in the Muslim world, installed as a
salve to the guilty consciences of Europeans in the wake of the Holocaust
rather than the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.
accused Israel of responsibility for the absence of peace, and drew a moral
equivalence between Israel’s counter-terror operations and the physical
presence of Jews and Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to the Holocaust.
demonizing America’s closest ally in the Middle East, Obama turned his
attention to Iran. Far from committing himself to preventing Iran from
acquiring nuclear weapons, Obama committed himself to appeasing Iran. He placed
the blame for Iranian hostility towards the U.S. on the CIA’s role in the 1953
coup that brought about the overthrow of then-Iranian President Mohammad
President Hosni Mubarak boycotted Obama’s address and refused to follow
protocol and greet Obama as he alighted Air Force One at the airport in Cairo.
Mubarak turned a cold shoulder to Obama because Obama insisted on inviting
Muslim Brotherhood members to his speech.
outlawed jihadist group, which spawned Hamas, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad led by
Ayman Zawahiri, and other major Islamic jihadist terror groups was – and
remains still today – the greatest threat to the Egyptian state. During the
Muslim Brotherhood’s year in power following Mubarak’s ouster a year after
Obama’s speech, it moved steadily to transform Egypt into an Islamic regime.
delivering his speech in the Egyptian capital to “Muslims around the world,”
rather than to the Egyptian people, Obama effectively rejected the distinct
identity of the peoples of Arab states. By rejecting Arab nationalism, he
subverted the legitimacy of the leaders of the separate and distinct Arab
states and gave support to the Muslim Brotherhood’s perception of the Muslims
of the world as one distinct nation or umma, which is supposed to be ruled by a
sum up, Obama rejected America’s moral right to lead in world affairs. He
undermined the morality of Israel’s very existence. He rejected the legitimacy
of Arab governments and elevated the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate force
in the Muslim world. And he ignored all of the pathologies of the Arab and
nuclear deal with Iran; his hostile treatment of Israel; his support for the
overthrow of allied and non-threatening Arab governments in Egypt, in Tunisia,
and in Libya; and his refusal to take decisive action against either ISIS or
Iranian aggression in Syria all were rooted in the anti-American principles he
set out in his Cairo speech.
Tuesday, Pompeo disavowed and condemned Obama’s speech point by point. Pompeo
rejected Obama’s denunciation of American power insisting, “America is a force
for good in the Middle East.”
the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt following Mubarak’s ouster in
2011, Pompeo said
lands witnessed convulsions from Tunis to Tehran as old systems crumbled and
new ones struggled to emerge. That’s happened here, too.
at this critical moment, America, your long-time friend, was absent too much.
Why? Because our leaders gravely misread our history, and your historical
moent. These fundamental misunderstandings, set forth in this city in 2009,
adversely affected the lives of hundreds of millions of people in Egypt and
across the region.
then spoke directly to Obama’s accusations against America.
It was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you.
told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology.
told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the
told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, “a new
beginning,” end of quote.
continued, explaining the disastrous consequences of Obama’s ill-assessment of
falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were
timid in asserting ourselves when the times – and our partners – demanded it.
grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism, a
debauched strain of the faith that seeks to upend every other form of worship
or governance. ISIS drove to the outskirts of Baghdad as America hesitated.
They raped and pillaged and murdered tens of thousands of innocents. They
birthed a caliphate across Syria and Iraq and launched terror attacks that
killed all across continents.
reluctance, our reluctance, to wield our influence kept us silent as the people
of Iran rose up against the mullahs in Tehran in the Green Revolution. The
ayatollahs and their henchmen murdered, jailed, and intimidated freedom-loving
Iranians, and they wrongly blamed America for this unrest when it was their own
tyranny that had fueled it. Emboldened, the regime spread its cancerous
influence to Yemen, to Iraq, to Syria, and still further into Lebanon.
penchant, America’s penchant, for wishful thinking led us to look the other way
as Hizballah, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Iranian regime, accumulated a
massive arsenal of approximately 130,000 rockets and missiles. They stored and
positioned these weapons in Lebanese towns and villages in flagrant violation
of international law. That arsenal is aimed squarely at our ally Israel.
Bashar Assad unleashed terror upon ordinary Syrians and barrel-bombed civilians
with sarin gas, a true echo of Saddam Hussein’s gassing of the Kurdish people,
we condemned his actions. But in our hesitation to wield power, we did nothing.
eagerness to address only Muslims and not nations ignored the rich diversity of
the Middle East and frayed old bonds. It undermined the concept of the
nation-state, the building block of international stability. And our desire for
peace at any cost led us to strike a deal with Iran, our common enemy.
today, what did we learn from all of this? We learned that when America retreats,
chaos often follows. When we neglect our friends, resentment builds. And when
we partner with enemies, they advance.
good news. The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is
over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now
comes the real new beginning.
went on to describe the Trump administration’s actions to restore and
strengthen America’s alliances with its Arab allies, its strategy for
countering Iranian aggression, and cultivating good relations between the Arab
states and Israel.
underlined the America’s continued commitment to utterly destroying Islamic
State forces in Syria, even after U.S. forces are withdrawn. And he spoke in
great detail about U.S. actions to curtail Iranian power and influence
throughout the region.
is little doubt that the media, the foreign policy establishment, the European
Union and the Democrats will continue to seek to undermine Trump’s policies in
the Middle East with the intention of paving the way for a restoration of
Obama’s policies – based on Obama’s Cairo speech from January 4, 2009.
on Thursday, by condemning and disavowing that speech in detail, from the place
where it was delivered, Pompeo drove a spear through the lie at its very heart
– that America is anything other than a force of good in the Middle East.
Two key US officials — special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Deputy Assistant to
the US president Lisa Curtis — are expected in Islamabad on Tuesday for talks
aimed at ensuring the success of a US-backed peace initiative for Afghanistan.
US Department of State announced last week that Mr Khalilzad is visiting India,
China, Pakistan and Afghanistan from Jan 8 for talks to “facilitate an
intra-Afghan political settlement”.
announcement did not name Ms Curtis, who looks after South and Central Asian
affairs for the White House National Security Council and has been involved in
the Afghan peace process since she joined the Trump administration almost two
at a Washington think-tank in June, Ms Curtis said that an important component
to catalysing a peace process in “Afghanistan is ensuring that Pakistan plays a
reports claimed that US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice
Wells is also likely to visit Islamabad soon, although it’s not clear if she
will join the US delegation.
US delegation is likely to spend five days in Islamabad, meeting senior civil
and military leaders. The delegation was in Beijing this weekend where Mr
Khalilzad discussed with senior Chinese officials the US initiative for a new
set-up in Kabul that includes the Kabul government as well as the Taliban.
read: Beyond the rhetoric, does the contemporary state really want to rid the
world of terrorism?
Friday, Mr Khalilzad met India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New
Delhi and the Indians insisted that any reconciliation process in the
Afghanistan “must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled,” the media
Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh
Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha and pledged to work with Qatar for
resolving the Afghan conflict. Qatar hosts a Taliban diplomatic post and also
hosted two of the three rounds of US-Taliban talks held so far.
week, Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib also visited China, the
UAE and Saudi Arabia to discuss US-Taliban talks with those governments, Afghan
the United States wants the Afghan government to participate in these talks,
the Taliban have refused to sit with Kabul officials. The US now wants Pakistan
to use its influence to persuade the Taliban to recognise the Afghan
the Afghan media reported on Monday that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the
co-founder of Taliban movement was now in Qatar “to participate in Taliban’s
political processes and moves”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that talks were under way on
Washington’s proposal to establish a “safe zone” in flashpoint border areas of
northeastern Syria, where tensions are rising between Turkey and Kurdish
militia. “We want to make sure that the folks who fought with us to down the
(Islamic State group) have security… and also that terrorists acting out of
Syria aren’t able to attack Turkey,” Pompeo said. “We want a secure border for
all the parties,” he said in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the latest leg of a
whirlwind Middle East tour. Washington is holding talks with all relevent sides
about such a “safe zone”, he added. His comments came a day after US President
Donald Trump in a tweet pushed for the creation of a 20-mile (30-kilometre)
“safe zone”, without saying who would create, enforce or pay for it. Trump also
did not say exactly where such a buffer area would be set up. Turkish Foreign
Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday said his country was “not against” a
“security zone” in
January 2019 Text size A A A
Donald Trump said in a tweet on Monday he saw “great potential to substantially
expand” economic development between the United States and Turkey, after
threatening on Sunday to devastate Turkey’s economy if they attack Washington’s
Kurdish allies in Syria.
who spoke on Monday with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, also said they
discussed “our last two weeks of success in fighting the remnants of ISIS, and
20 mile safe zone” in Syria.
on Monday, President Erdogan’s spokesman said that Turkey expected the United
States to honor their strategic partnership after US President Donald Trump
warned it would "devastate Turkey economically" if they attack a
Kurdish militia in Syria.
Saudi Arabian lobby group in the United States is warning Canada that its
relations with Arab-Muslim countries could suffer in the wake of the federal
government’s decision to grant asylum to a Saudi woman fleeing alleged abuse
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on
Saturday, where she was personally greeted by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia
Freeland. Ms. Freeland then introduced the newcomer to TV cameras as a “brave
al-Qunun had told authorities she feared her family would kill her if she
returned to Saudi Arabia.
source close to the Saudi government who was not permitted to speak publicly
said they believed Ottawa’s actions will have a “negative” effect on
however, remains officially silent on what Ottawa has done. As of Monday night,
three days after Canada announced it would accept Ms. al-Qunun as a refugee,
the oil-rich kingdom still had not released a public statement on the matter.
young woman fled to Bangkok after escaping her family in Kuwait the week before
and mounted a social-media campaign for assistance after Thailand denied her
entry. Canada moved quickly to offer her asylum ahead of Australia, where she
is believed to have been heading.
Al-Ansari, president and founder of the Saudi American Public Relations Affairs
Committee (SAPRAC), took to Twitter on Monday to warn Canada that it may face
recrimination from Arab-Muslim countries.
our Canadian friends,” Mr. Al-Ansari wrote. “The provocative and immature policies
of [Ms. Freeland] and Justin Trudeau against the biggest Middle Eastern country
and the heart of the Arab and Muslim world, Saudi Arabia, might lead major
Arab-Muslim nations to review their relations with Canada."
spokeswoman for SAPRAC said Mr. Al-Ansari was not available to elaborate on his
statement. The lobby group is registered as a foreign agent in Washington for
the Muslim World League, an organization based in Mecca that receives funding
from the Saudi government.
Daffa, vice-president and executive director of SAPRAC, accused the Trudeau
government of politicking with an eye to this fall’s federal election.
elections are around the corner and the current government of Canada wants to
score points over a family issue and humanitarian rights,” she said.
Horak, a former Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said he’s a bit surprised
that the Saudi government has said nothing about Ms. al-Qunun’s asylum claim.
he said he thinks Riyadh has decided to stay mum for now because, after months
of intense criticism over the killing of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, the
kingdom has no wish to be drawn into another prolonged international debate
about its conduct. “They would probably like this to disappear," Mr. Horak
said. "It’s shone a light on the guardianship laws that they probably
aren’t thrilled with.”
Saudi Arabia’s controversial male guardianship system, every Saudi woman is
assigned a male relative – often her father or husband but sometimes an uncle,
brother or even a son – whose approval is needed if she is to marry, obtain a
passport or travel abroad.
Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of
Public and International Affairs, said the Saudis are likely very concerned
about trying to limit further criticism from the U.S. Congress. In December,
the U.S. Senate delivered a rare double rebuke to U.S. President Donald Trump –
one of Saudi Arabia’s few defenders today – voting to end U.S. military support
for the war in Yemen and blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the
killing of Mr. Khashoggi. The resolution has yet to pass the U.S. House of
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